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The impact of your daily coffee on the environment - how to change it


It's time for coffee lovers to play their role in protecting the environment.

Australians are a nation of coffee lovers, and our coffee is some of the best in the world. 

You may not think that your daily takeaway coffee habit could be impacting the environment in any meaningful way. After all, you recycle. You’ve eradicated plastic straws from your life. You try to minimise your own household waste as much as possible. What’s one or two coffees a day going to do? 

Well...a lot. As you queue for your mid-morning skinny latte alongside masses of like-minded caffeine friends, picture the same scene happening everywhere...all across the all times of the day and night. All those cups with nowhere to go.

The environment impact of takeaway coffee cups is at crisis stage. 

1 billion reasons to make a change 

The numbers are in… and they are disturbing to say the least. Each year, Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups

1 billion disposable coffee cups every year. Over 2 million per day across the country. Let that sink in. 

Further, Planet Ark research has found that just plastic coffee cup parts alone result in 60,000 kilos of landfill waste annually

And that’s only Australian figures! 

And considering that experts advise that takeaway coffee cups are no longer recyclable, these paper and plastic coffee cups are going directly into landfill. That personal convenience of popping in for a large flat white isn’t a convenience for the planet, which continues to endure extremely high levels of greenhouse gas emissions as a result.

How you can reduce your own coffee footprint  

The University of Melbourne has conducted much-needed research into how dangerous disposable coffee cups really are to the planet, and they recommend purchasing a reusable, portable coffee cup. You have probably seen more and more regulars at your local cafe popping in with their own, and Melbourne Uni states that your own greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by up to 92% by joining the reusable cup crew

The benefits of investing in one of these sustainable coffee cups - commonly referred to as keep-cups - are vast. You will be dramatically reducing (or completely stopping) your own coffee cup waste going into landfill, the cups keep your cuppa hot for 2-3 hours and they are BPA free. Many environmentally conscious coffee shops even offer discounts for customers who bring their own reusable cup

There’s an online movement that makes it easy to find a conscious cafe near you. Responsible Cafes is rapidly building its list of participating cafes that implement sustainable measures to cut down on disposable coffee cups, and there are currently 5000 on the books! Cafes across Australia can register for free, and there’s a variety of perks for doing so.

In addition, more and more corporate companies are jumping aboard the sustainability train, making a range of reusable coffee cups accessible to their staff so that they are less inclined to opt for a quick fix that hurts the environment. 

What are you waiting for? 

If you need more evidence of just how much coffee cups are contributing to the destruction of the planet, the ABC show War On Waste recently dedicated an entire episode to the Australian coffee cup crisis. You can stream it on ABC iView. 

All we can see are reasons to completely ditch disposable coffee cups in favour of reusable ones

This is just a glimpse into a very complex - yet easily rectifiable - issue. Check back in with the La Española blog often for regular tips on doing your own part in protecting the environment.